Rejecting allegations that CBI was acting against YS Jaganmohan Reddy at the behest of government and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the ruling party on Monday accused the YSR Congress chief and his family of making baseless accusations for sake of “political benefit”.
“Neither the central government, the state government nor the Congress have anything to do with Jagan’s arrest. It was part of the (investigation) process and the investigation is based on the directions of the High Court,” Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy said.
“The rise of Rajasekhara Reddy is due to the Gandhi family. So now they want to accuse them for political benefit. We condemn that totally…. People of the state are very intelligent. They will understand the gameplan,” he said.
Trashing charges of political vendetta behind the arrest of Jagan, party spokesperson Manish Tewari, speaking in Delhi, dismissed contentions of it having any impact on the bye-polls in Andhra Pradesh saying that is “erroneous read” of the pulse of India and people are far more mature.
“We do not interfere into the on-going investigation or judicial process. We reject all such averments or allegations if they have been made at all,” he told reporters at the AICC briefing.
Taking strong exception to the YSR family “trying to create a controversy” over the helicopter crash in which Jagan’s father the then Chief Minister Y S Rajasekahara Reddy was killed, the Chief Minister said his government was ready to order fresh investigation into the incident.
“We condemn such acts… they are trying to get political sympathy out of their financial irregularities or the death of Rajasekhara Reddy, which was an accident,” Kiran said.
“We have not ordered the inquiry (against Jagan). It is a court order. It was for Jagan to answer to (the court) on the financial irregularities,” he said.
The central government never interfered when CBI arrested its ministers, MPs and others on corruption charges, Kiran noted, adding that a minister of his Cabinet too was arrested by the CBI in the (Jagan’s) disproportionate assets case.
39-year-old Jagan was arrested by the CBI yesterday in the disproportionate assets case and remanded in judicial custody for two weeks.
“We will not tolerate if YSRC leaders blame the Congress,” Kiran warned, adding that their criticism was intended to garner political mileage ahead of the by-elections by misleading people.
“It is your (Jagan’s) responsibility to explain how huge investments have come into your companies. You tell the court,” the Chief Minister said.
Reacting to Jagan’s mother Vijaya’s lament whether there was democracy (in the state), the Chief Minister remarked: “You have the opportunity to prove your innocence only because it is a democracy. Otherwise, you would not have had such an opportunity.”
He recalled that the entire YSR family was appreciative of the CBI when it did not include Jagan’s name in the chargesheet, though listed in the FIR, in the case related to the murder of TDP MLA Paritala Ravindra in 2005.
“It was YSR himself who ordered a CBI probe when his son’s name was included in the FIR. But subsequently Jagan was exonerated and the family praised the CBI. Why then is it questioning the investigating agency and attributing motives,” Kiran wondered.
Replying to questions on the 26 controversial GOs issued during YSR regime, that have a connection with Jagan’s disproportionate assets case, the Chief Minister said they would be “re-looked or cancelled or re-visited” based on court’s verdict.
“What government has to do is being done on its own. But, we are not doing anything that could influence the ongoing CBI probe,” he pointed out.
He said the then Infrastructure Minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana was arrested as part of the investigation. “It’s my personal view that Ramana will come clean out of the investigation,” Kiran said.
On the Supreme Court notices to five other ministers in relation to the 26 controversial GOs, the Chief Minister said the notices were served “individually” and as such they would have file counters individually.
“We are seeking legal opinion and we shall respond on behalf of the government, if required,” he said.
On the chopper crash, the Chief Minister said a fresh inquiry would be ordered if the YSR family submitted a petition listing its doubts over the incident.
The government would also publicise the contents of the ill-fated helicopter’s cockpit voice recorder as they were “not confidential.”
“The CBI and other experts have already conducted detailed investigation into the crash and submitted their reports. It was an accident in which we lost our leader who was Chief Minister. If his family still has any doubts, let them come with a petition and we will be ready for a re-investigation,” Kiran Kumar said, in reply to a question.
The Congress rejected any link between Reddy’s arrest and the bypolls in the state scheduled from June 12 for 18 Assembly and one Lok Sabha seat.
“There is a need to desegregate the two and look at them differently. One is a criminal proceeding, which is underway. Another is an election…. I think there is no scope for drawing any linkages,” Tewari said in Delhi.
Responding to contentions that action was taken against Jaganmohan Reddy only after the death of his father, a Congress Chief Minister, Tewari said it’s an irony that the party is being accused on one hand of vendetta, while it is also being pointed out that the action also involves a former Congress Chief Minister.
“You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds,” Tewari said.
The Congress spokesperson said, “it vindicates that the Congress party and the UPA government do not interfere with investigations. It is in our genes. We do not do it.”
Tewari also said that the UPA’s conduct and track record over the last eight years has been that wherever there has been a “whisper of allegation”, it has been throughly investigated and if the allegations have been found untrue, the honour of the people have been restored.
Asked why did CBI chose to arrest Jagan just a fortnight before the bye-elections, Tewari retorted “how can I answer. When do they (CBI) decide” addding that the agency is answerable to the Andhra Pradesh High Court in this case.
CBI has charged Jagan under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 477A (falsification of accounts) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption.